AMBASSADOR'S BLOG - SHOULD WE MOVE THE FOREIGN OFFICE TO MANCHESTER?

Manchester
19.03.10




The Alla Horska Folk Art Museum is exquisite: rare Ukrainian embroidery; wooden ornaments, painted eggs, tapestries and pottery.  Where is it?  At the Manchester branch of the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain.

The Foreign Office encourages ambassadors to meet local communities in the United Kingdom to talk, listen and learn.  Having grown up in Manchester I'm delighted to start a visit to the city at the Salford City Academy in Eccles, getting to know Beckie, Victoria, Jade, Emma, Sophie, Tom, Hayden, Alex, Lianne and other sixth-formers (thanks for the school tour and questions!).  The Academy has links to a school in Kyiv through the Dreams and Teams programme - I met pupils from their partner school in Kyiv in January - and feels dynamic and enthusiastic.  From there I move on to meet undergraduates and postgraduates at Manchester University to talk about Ukrainian politics, and about life and work in the Foreign Office.  It's always good to encounter a group of people with such interest and expertise in Ukrainian affairs, with questions on everything from pipeline politics to the presidential elections.  There are personal questions ("what do you do if you disagree with government policy?") and questions about joining the FCO ("what should I do in the next 12 months if I want to have the best chance when I apply?").  From there I move on to meet members of the Ukrainian community at their centre in Cheetham Hill, where I hear about their great work teaching Ukrainian language and culture and have the privilege of looking round the museum.  Tomorrow, I'll be continuing the programme with a visit to pupils at Manchester Grammar School, which I attended from 1970-76.

Wonderful city though London is, I often think there could be advantages in moving the Foreign Office to Manchester, with its stunning local countryside, tasty drinking water and competitive football teams.  Unfortunately, I can't see it happening any time soon.  But it's great to be able to travel around the city for a couple of days and to meet so many interesting and inspiring people.      

Leigh Turner
British Ambassador to Ukraine

      

 

Salford City Academy, including Sixth form students, and (bottom) at the AUGB Manchester branch 

NOTE:  You can read all of Ambassador Turner's blogs by visiting: http://blogs.fco.gov/roller/turner



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